Engaging Families! Now that's what I'm talkin' about
We know when the whole family is engaged in what the children are doing, the children do better. So school is starting and it’s time to make sure our families feel welcomed at the school. But let’s take this further than “Welcome to Our School” signs posted out front. I am going to share a few of the ideas from the book, “101 Ways to create Family Engagement” by Dr. Steven M. Constantino.
A Welcoming Environment implies that a school has focused efforts on maintaining an atmosphere that is inviting to families and honors their presence.
v Appreciate the culture of your community- Invite families to share their histories and traditions and have them assist in the classroom with projects that help the students learn about those cultures.
v An effective means to building family relationships is to celebrate them. Encourage the teachers to create programs that highlight families. Students can bring pictures of their families in projects that will be displayed in the classroom or halls. Create a bulletin board or hallway as a family celebration area in the school.
v Create a culture of acceptance, openness and value toward all- When dealing with problems at the school, many parents feel that they will only be heard if they are angry. In some ways they are right. We can work with our principals to create and environment where parents are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the education process and come up with solutions to help their students. We also can help our parents understand the best ways to resolve conflict.
v Fabulous Family Feedback- Many businesses in the service field ask for feedback on the service you received. What if our schools asked for feedback on the service families receive when they have visited the schools. When families enter a school they are asked to sign in at the office. Offer them a service response card that they can rate their experience. Question could include:
Did you find what you were looking for?
Were you treated with respect?
Did our staff help you?
Did you get the information you were looking for or solve the problem you hoped to solve?
Won’t it be interesting to see what they say?
Families being welcomed at your school is very important and simple changes can make a huge difference.